Today we have another in MINI’s series of exploring the world in various MINI models. This time it’s the Lofted Islands – a remote area off the coast of Norway known for incredible beauty, great roads and dried fish. And the car – it’s a MINI Countryman SE with the AUTOHOME roof tent installed. Having seen the AUTOHOME roof tend in our recent trip to Germany it’s seriously impressive kit that would be a great addition to anyone looking to camp with their Countryman. That’s if you can get your hands on one.
If you’re into rugged landscape, humid air and dried fish, the Lofoten Islands are the perfect place for you. The Norwegian Island chain offers a great deal for those travelling by car: adventure off the beaten track, beautiful bridges and lonely country roads. In short: The perfect terrain for the MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4. Especially if you have the AUTOHOME roof tent along with you.
It starts like the alphabet – with an A. All right, there is a little circle above the A but if you come to the Lofoten Islands by ferry from the south, you first arrive in the place with the shortest name and the first letter in the alphabet: Å. A good start for a trip across this 1227-square-kilometre, 200-kilometre-long northern Norwegian group of islands, which comprises around 80 archipelagos, is located some 100 to 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, translates as “lynx’s foot”, and where some 24,000 inhabitants tend to lose themselves rather than meet.
Å is also where the E10 begins which is something like the Lofoten lifeline and a kind of highway. The main country road constantly runs along either water by forests or rocks, so that exploring it never becomes boring. Especially not if you are driving a a MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4. With its four doors, five seats, two drives and four powered wheels, MINI’s first plug-in hybrid model seems to have found its natural habitat here. Although the E10 is quite well built-out and asphalted, detours to the left and right to hidden coves and old fishing villages may well lead over gravel roads and off-road terrain. And the MINI doesn’t mind the often-damp weather either: On wet or dirty roads, the precisely tuned power distribution of the two power units and the all-wheel drive make for ideal driving stability. Its
3-cylinder petrol engine with 92 kW/125 hp generated from a cubic capacity of 1.5 litres drives the front wheels, while a 70 kW/95 hp electric motor transmits its power to the rear wheels. With is 220 hp overall, the MINI is thus ideally equipped for anything that might come its way.
You definitely shouldn’t start out on a trip like this on an empty stomach – so the first stop on our Lofoten Island trip is probably the most famous seafood restaurant on the island chain, Anita’s Seafood in Sakrisøj. You can’t miss it – the E10 goes right past it, which already has its own attractions ready and waiting for us: Single-track bridges with on-demand traffic lights. At Anita’s we can choose from stockfish, klippfish, smoked salmon, trout, halibut, caviar and much more, most of it also to take away. But dining on site is really worth it – the large candelabras under the high ceiling are unique because even they are built from dried cod. Fish is certainly a big thing here. During the fishing seasons, the smell of steaming fish constantly wafts over the whole of the Lofoten Islands. The reason: Myriads of gutted cod hang on huge wooden scaffolds, much of which is exported after it has matured. It’s a good thing that the MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 offers a luggage compartment volume of up to 1,275 litres – leaving enough room for such local souvenirs as dry goods in addition to the luggage. “The Lofoten Shop” a few kilometres away in Ramberg also sells more common souvenirs.
We continue heading north in our MINI – ideally taking a detour along the narrow, constantly winding Fv807 west to Nusfjord. Here there is an old, restored fishing village, now completely developed as a charming hotel with boathouses for guests. A good place to approach in fully electric silence. The electricity that powers the MINI’s electric drivetrain is stored in a high-voltage battery with a gross energy content of 10.0 kWh. This gives it a combined electric range of up to 51 kilometres. In purely electric driving mode, by the way, the plug-in hybrid model reaches a top speed of 135 km/h – far too fast for Lofoten, which allows a maximum of 90 km/h on the E10. And not everywhere either.
We continue north, make a detour on the B18, which takes us to Buksnes to visit the typical Norwegian stave church dating back to 1905. A few kilometres further along the E10, the Himmel og Havn café in Vestvågøy invites us to take a break and reenergise ourselves for visiting the Viking museum in Borg afterwards.
Tired from the many sights and impressions, we look for a place to pitch the roof tent in the evening. Everyman’s right applies in Norway: You can camp anywhere, but not on private land and only if you remove all traces of your stay. A great place to do this is Bøstad, a popular surfer’s paradise. Or Henningsvaer, a collection of small islands with a fishing village, which you reach via the B16. Perhaps plan a visit to the Kafe Knusarn beforehand? It is located in one of the typical Norwegian wooden houses – this one was built as early as 1892.
And then: Get ready for an incomparable Lofoten Island night. We unfold the AUTOHOME roof tent, which has been travelling with us all the way on our roof rack. When closed, the roof tent is barely distinguishable from a conventional transport box. The aerodynamically shaped fibreglass housing is unlocked via safety latches – two at the front, one at the back. The tent superstructure is then automatically raised by means of four gas pressure springs. Inside, you have almost metre of space to the top. Rain and wind will be of no concern to you. The material keeps you dry and well protected. Features include a high-density mattress with cotton cover, two doors and two windows with zips, battery-powered LED interior lighting and luggage nets and pockets. You access your new home using a sturdy aluminium ladder. With a length of 2.10 metres and a width of 1.30 metres, the sleeping area offers enough space for unforgettable nights.
Especially when the evening ends with Norwegian labskaus – a melange of potato, carrots and lamb – and a cool “Lofotpils”. And if you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, you’ll be even more excited to continue your journey in the MINI Cooper Countryman SE ALL4 through this rugged wonderland.